It felt silent but rather, it was the gentle orchestra of the backwoods.
My dogs stay close while all around us acorns bounce off of the ground that is covered with pine needles the color of an amber beach.
The transitioning green ferns now spotted in shades of brown, dance in the breeze as autumn’s-colored leaves flutter like butterflies.
Almost tiptoeing, we walk, scanning trees and fallen wood branches for any sign of hidden life.
Caught by surprise, a chipmunk makes its shrieking, chipping noise and scampers away.
Squirrels bark, warning the forest of a hawk or an owl which is present and looking for lunch.
Spotting some raccoons, I call the dogs in to sit and stay nearby. Always attentive, they move their heads, instinctively sniffing the air with their noses and perking up their ears.
Years ago my mother gave me a book (one of many). The book is called The Book In Review, by Herbert Vanderlugt. It is a quick and wonderful review of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The book follows two streams, one of individual salvation and one world redemption- as they flow through the Bible. (page 192)
At the very end the last words or quote is from a man named Eric Sauer and it is one of my favorite messages about God.
" We behold with worship this age-long plan of God. The record of salvation in the Bible has conducted us from the gate of eternity before all time to the gate of eternity after this time. The goal is exactly as the commencement (Psalm 90:2), God Himself...But He Himself, the King of ages (1Timothy 1:17), will then bring ages upon ages out of His inexhaustible, infinite fullness (Revelation 22:5; Ephesians 2:7). In heavenly jubilees will His redeemed creatures praise Him, and through the spheres and worlds of the new creation will ring and resound the triumphant, exultant song: "Unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, from eternity to eternity.
(This picture was taken on a lovely September long drive with my dad)
Southwest of the bog...
It was quiet all around me with only an occasional sound from the wind or a yelp from the herons which I'd come to see. Bundled up in layers of clothes along with water boots, I turned off my iphone as to not disturb nature. I watched and waited, hoping to see the dance of the great blue herons mating. I saw one pick up a branch from a nest, drop it, then pick up another one and fly off.
Herons and egrets present sticks to the one that tickles their fancy during courtship and nesting. It’s like a man bringing a woman flowers...the sticks are gifts and a show of affection. Herons don’t mate for life so this is a yearly ceremony. I’m eager to see it in full display.
I thought about my life today and said aloud, “I cannot believe it.” How blessed I am. I reflected over how time flies and the gentleness and grace of God. Experience and age changes us but He is the conductor of life's orchestra: the beginning and the end. I said again out loud, “ I never thought I’d see and do the things I’ve been privileged to see and do these past few years. I never even imagined it.” I’ve been immeasurably showered over by my husband’s generosity in allowing me to pursue the things I feel passionate about. I hardly ever put down my camera and I thrive on crazy abstract adventures, especially on rivers and in the woods. I am not well liked by most but to my husband I know I am his whole world. This is a delicate and sacred knowledge and my own heart is full of flowers every day.
Many years of my own life were about survival. They were unstable years, stained with much sin that haunted me with deep sorrow. For years I cried because I knew that as a mother of three children I had not had the wisdom or strength to give them what they deserved. It was only when I met my husband that he provided a sanctuary and a home. Together we gave them our best, together we sought the Lord, and together we attempted to fill their brains with His truth before they left our home. In a way it was a crash course in parenting and priorities as we worked to make up for lost time.
I turned away from friendships then so that I could look to God alone, ignoring others' opinions about right and wrong. I needed time to work through all the feebleness and the grandiose, “there are many truths” mindsets which are so pervasive in today's society. I did have friends who I loved and adored. It was they that helped me to get by many tragic crossroads in my life. For that I will always smile when I think about them. I found, though that I didn’t want their truths I wanted “THE truth.” I spent several years reading the Bible word by word, line by line, verse and chapter by chapter, book by book,(I still do). I also studied doctrine, theology, church history, cults, progressivism, Catholicism, dispensation, Calvinism and the likes. Name it, I’ve likely studied it. I discovered that to be an intellectual one does not have to be an academic.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Though I continue to examine the Bible, I also have entrenched myself to nature and Gods creation. I find it fascinating. I recall thinking last year as I was embedded with Canada geese, how anyone could possibly believe in evolution. Evolution is about evolving but geese are practically perfect. Herons, on the other hand are predators and they look like dinosaurs. Sarcastically, I wonder if that’s why so many people like them. I like them too. They’re beautiful, graceful and like all things, they are Gods handiwork. I know I’ll learn something and I am looking forward to that.
"Only one who has learned much can fully appreciate his ignorance. He knows so well the limits of his knowledge and how much lies waiting to be learned."
There was a wet snow falling on me as I stood high on the rocks along the bank of the river.
Earlier I had been to a sandwich shop and found out from a fisherman that they were putting up the nets to catch the alewives. For some reason I thought they did that in May, not in April. My curiosity was peeked and I drove over to walk the paths high above the water with my camera around my neck and protectively tucked into my coat.
I am not a people person but I have a longing to learn new things. Gaining knowledge of something drives me, I think that is why I love the outdoors and wildlife so much.
As I stood watching, I thought to myself "Who in their right mind would stand in the cold and be this excited?" I glanced up the river and saw two fishermen hanging nets. They were dressed like lobsterman in boots, hats and warm clothing. It was very interesting to me to see how much work it was for them to hang and secure their equipment. Mind you it was wet, overcast, and snowing.
To the left of me I heard some younger boys come down another path. They were carrying small hand held nets, smoking cigarettes and dressed in jeans, unzipped jackets, baseball hats, and all weather boots.
They put down their gear and came my way. After a nice conversation they informed me that they were fishing "blind." Which meant they couldnt see the fish. Apparently they drag their hand held nets in and out of the water to get whatever they can catch.
I asked them questions. They explained that the alewives run mostly during high tide. The fishermen usually come to gather their haul during low tide. Sometimes they stay throughout the day, checking and adjusting their gear.
After they left I kneeled down on a rock and drew my camera out, using it like binoculars. I focused up and down the river. It was pretty cool taking a closer look at all the netting on both sides of the banks. I felt wound up with anticipation, imaging how the river anglers must be feeling too, preparing for their season. It's a tough way to make a living. In a way it's an honor for me to witness, as the wife of a seafaring husband. Like my husband, these men work hard, they likely sacrifice long hours to get the job done. Like my husband who is an engineer, these fishermen work with their hands. There is no glory and no glamour. It's dirty, it's messy, and it requires concentration and quick thinking. I so admire those who I like to say are, "working for a living."
When I first started doing photography I took pictures of everything. I practiced the fundamentals (I still do) of sunsets, lighthouse sunrises, sea smoke, landscape, action, wildlife, and people. You name it I played with my camera in many environments just to learn. ( I still do) Eventually I started paying attention to myself so that I could “be in touch” with what I really enjoyed, what was I passionate about, what did I get excited about? I began to narrow that down and ...today I mostly do only what I love to do. I have found that it is important for me to be excited about the process. It’s personal… I try never to lose sight of that. I am a loner to extremes. Networking is not my “thing” although I am told over and over again how important that is??? I spend a tremendous amount of time outside. It is not an exaggeration to say I am outside 4-5 days a week in all weather for 5-10 hours at a stretch. I track in the woods and on rivers sitting quietly and observing for hours. I’ve been chased by fisher cats and carry pepper spray, especially in the spring. (I am quite concerned about bears right now.) When I need a break I head to a city to “get away” from everything and play with my version of street photography. Yesterday I traveled west and ended up in the woods and river quite some distance from our house. It was a great day. I was in solitude, I was surprised by nature, I observed, learned, and captured images that fuel my love for photography and the lifestyle I’m so blessed to enjoy.
Part 2 My summer, photography and wildlife…GoneFishin
As I took my coffee this morning to our back porch I sat to the faint sound of a crow. The sun was warm and the air crisp, as fall begins to move in.
I knew that when I left several days ago to travel to my brother’s wedding that on that day my last batch of baby sparrows was ready to fly. I knew that when I returned my yard would be quiet from all of the summer’s busy activity and that the sweet sound of chirping and the entertaining fluttering of wings would not greet me on my return. Yet, this morning I keep turning my head, looking, waiting and anticipating the pleasurable union of morning coffee and birds. It seems far too hushed. It is not that I am not ready for the fall, I love it. It is just that this has been my first summer as a “birder” and I have been amply filled with a different kind of joy than I have ever experienced. Hardly a day has gone by when I have not “gone fishin”...a phrase I have named my latest passion for bird photography.
Several weeks ago a friend, whom I have written about before, showed me her split avocado seed. She said to me “Look at this. How can anyone not marvel at Gods creation?” Her seed was perfectly split in half with the male part on one side and the female part on the other side. She found it fascinating how intricate and organized God’s work can be.
In many ways it is like my bird summer. The wonder of it all… God’s creation.
I will never forget the day that it all began. My husband mentioned that a red cardinal had just crossed our yard. As I looked I grabbed my camera and snuck around the house. The cardinal was nowhere to be seen. I stood waiting when I noticed motion in front of our porch in the bushes. Just then the cardinal flew out. I looked and saw nothing but I was curious as to why he had been in them. I then entered our porch and as I looked through the window, there it was just 2 feet away… a nest with 4 fledgling cardinals. I was smitten immediately! The next 48 hours changed my entire summer.
I know more about birds today than I ever have. I have watched observed and gotten lost in them. In some ways I feel it has been a gift. With the world on fire and so much to be genuinely concerned about this dear hobby of bird watching has brought me solitude. It has given me an opportunity to practice and learn more on my camera, to visit and talk to people along the way and to have a sense of peace in spite of all the tribulation.
One day as I thought about how I was feeling, I thought this must be how a fisherman feels, lost in the water, the quiet, the reflections and the distant sound of wildlife. I thought about how I had never just done something because I enjoyed it. I thought how I hadn’t really taken the time to observe God’s creation, to ponder how nature works, lives and responds to His environment. I always sort of shrugged my shoulders at “those” nature people. Many who I have visited with were not Christians, but as a Christian I should more fully embrace what He has given us...that which He created in the world. My bird watching has caused me to consider the sun, sky, ocean, rivers, thunder, lightning and the seasons. I have reflected on the book of Genesis and how marvelous Eden must have been and how again in the future heaven will knock our socks off…Are there socks in heaven?
Did you know that some male birds make several nests and then take the female around to pick the one that suits her fancy? Or that many birds return year after year to the same familiar place? A person can actually plan and prepare for their arrival by adding to the garden and yard things that bring them pleasure. Did you know that yard birds are territorial and oust other birds from a birdhouse or nesting place? They defend their nest and fledglings from predators.
In our yard I observed that when birds are born many others gather around, chirp and get excited. They do the same thing when babies are ready to leave the nest. All at once there is a gathered flock, making all kinds of noise and letting everyone know…"Look out they’re ready to fly!"
It’s as though the local bird kingdom is proud and showing off…it is simple charming!
Part 1 My summer, photography and wildlife…GoneFishin